Tuesday, 3 October 2023

Elden Ring: Didn't expect pathetic sort

[Part of my Elden Ring journal]

You know you are late in playing a game when the very first room is full of player made graffiti. It isn't very long until I run into the first monstrosity which... my brain still fails to comprehend what it was... easily defeats me after only taking a few hits in return.

I awaken in some sort of training cave with only a lucky medallion in my possession and a hefty stick I can use as a club (decided to start as a level 1 wretch). The "training" zombies here are easy enough as is their zombie soldier boss who just needs some basic dodging. Beyond them is an elevator to the surface where I get to see just how expansive these lands are!

While some holy light directs me to go in a particular direction I find it too risky as its patrolled by either a massive giant or a heavily mounted knight, both of whom I don't really want to tangle with while I'm just in my underwear. I opt to follow the border South instead, skirting around a swamp and bashing in a few giant bats to reach the lands of monkey men. One of them drops a falchion but I can't use it because apparently I'm weaker than a monkey. LOL.

But I'm sneakier than a monkey!

Elden Ring

I know I'm very late to this party but as a fan of their earlier works I'm glad I finally get to play this game, gifted to me by Juris! It's also the reason I've stopped playing chess for a bit... but like chess expect me to not understand what's going on half the time, and I'll be trying the "online but solo" version for starters which means I still got to see all the handy signs others would leave behind but have no chance of being invaded (or asking for help apparently). Lastly if you're wondering what's up with the post titles I'm trying to copy the "restrictive" message style available in the game. :P

1 - Didn't expect pathetic sort

Wednesday, 27 September 2023

Spell Drifter and Huntdown

Killing the enemies with "cool".

Spell Drifter

A crashed meteor that is said to give people magical powers attracts an entire city worth of pilgrims who seem to all be scum. At least that's what it feels like when your protagonists arrive. The story, art and jarringly out of place rock riffs are ok as is the meat of the game which is turn based grid combat where you have to rely on card draws to pull special weapons or make use of powers. Other than you thinking of the moves this part goes really fast and you aren't really punished for losing since your active party all gains XP regardless of the result and replaying is free. It does get more interesting once you get past the solo prologue bits where you can start deploying a team but ultimately the game is just ok. It's not bad, but not great. Recommended? Eh, get it when its free to try it out.


It is the future, the world is crap and full of bad guys, and you and one friend who are bounty hunters can cooperatively HUNT all of them DOWN. This plays like an old sidescrolling arcade shooter with ridiculous characters (but decent art) and intentionally cheesy voice acting, but even the easiest mode was giving us a challenge. While the controls were quite responsive my wife and I tried the two people on one keyboard approach and found we were getting in each others way a lot of the time so expect to alter the keybindings if you want to enjoy this for longer periods of time (our arms started hurting). Again not bad, but not great.

Tuesday, 26 September 2023

Pacific Rim / Uprising / The Black

Kaiju versus giant robot action!

Pacific Rim

Aliens are conducting a slow invasion of Earth, sending in a giant monster every few months to wreck the place up. To combat this the humans have developed massive robots called Jaegers that require two pilots to be mentally in-sync to battle these giants and while the robots have the occasional weapon it usually comes down to fisticuffs without a care about collateral damage! A decent plot backed by great CGI makes this a pretty good movie. I quite appreciate that the robots are also not super-agile "Transformers" type and are more janky as robots are meant to be. Thumbs up!

Pacific Rim: Uprising

Years after the first movie where humanity won the war, a new threat appears (or there wouldn't be a movie right?) with new pilots to face them. While I appreciate that there's more humor injected here the plot makes a farce established elements in the first movie, like - now there are agile Transformer type robots that don't need two pilots because... they (incorrectly) thought it was cooler? Still an entertaining spectacle but not as good as the first one. Surprisingly while the fully CGI bits are nice, the blue screen segments are particularly bad.

Pacific Rim: The Black

In this two season animated series, Kaijus have taken over Australia and some survivors who have been living in hiding come across a functional training Jaeger that gives them a shot at escaping to the shore. I'm quite happy that the janky robotness is back and that the 3D animation is very good. The monsters look especially great! The mind melding drifting (two pilot thing) is also used to greater effect here, as the plot continues threads established from the previous two films. It's a decent offering and one Pacific Rim fans will enjoy.

Monday, 25 September 2023

Horrified: American Monsters

Save another town from cryptids!

This stand alone 1-5 player cooperative board game plays almost exactly like the original, wherein players basically need to collect items and use them in particular spots to make the monsters vulnerable, and them finish them off by dumping more specific items on said monsters, sometimes at specific locations.

While the player characters are much the same with just a slight reskin, it's clear the six cryptids in this game are designed to be a greater challenge. Well maybe not Bigfoot, because he basically moves like a stalker. The Chupacabra hops around the board to eat animals, the Banshee of the Badlands has an auto-kill mechanic, the Mothman can move really fast (and hit everything in the way) if given the chance, the Ozark Howler just cheats and loves spreading doom around, and the Jersey Devil has an interesting mechanic that needs to be solved quick or you'll run out of monster cards and lose the game.

Pretty fun, but like the first one the tension drops as you begin taking down the monsters. Still recommended, especially if you liked the original and don't mind having a few more fidgety mechanics. Better than the first? Mmm, maybe not.

Saturday, 23 September 2023

Warframe: Art Show

This will be the last of these galleries for now as I've been playing less Warframe as of late. I'll need to start visiting more dojos to collect more works if there is interest for these to continue. :)

Wednesday, 20 September 2023

Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku (S1) and Mashle: Magic and Muscles (S1)

Two first season anime reviews that both deal with "magic and muscles".

Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku (Season 1)

During the Edo period in Japan, a bunch of captured dangerous death-row convicts AND their equally lethal minders are sent to a mysterious island believed to be the location of the elixir of life. Whichever convict returns with it will be pardoned. This immediately sets up a battle royale type scene but its just made all the worse when the island is full of horrible monsters too (why else are they sending expendable criminals right)?

Decent art with well animated and gory fight scenes make this worth watching despite the "down time" episodes that are mostly talking. Also given the large cast it takes sometime to care about some of the characters but that fixes itself nicely once people start dying off. Fair warning though, until the announced second season comes out this won't have a satisfying ending. Still a thumbs up from me!

Mashle: Magic and Muscles (Season 1)

In a world ruled by magic users, those born without the talent for it are simply executed to keep the blood line strong. Enter Mash, who is one such "abomination" with zero magical ability (and possibly a lower IQ). What he does have however, is super athleticism and when he is forced to attend "magic school" he must come up with ways to physically achieve what the others just wave wands for.

This lighthearted comedy clearly makes fun of Harry Potteresque ideas, and it's pretty cool to see arrogant wizards put in their place through pure brute force. The jokes are a bit hit and miss though, and you'll need to power through episode one to get any traction. The art is also a step down from what I usually watch but again, its fine for what it is. Another one I'll definitely be watching the second season of. :)

Warframe: Monsters

Continuing from the previous gallery, it looks like creatures and monsters are another common subject people create in their dojos...

Monday, 18 September 2023

Scream (2022) and Knock at the Cabin

A pair of horrors that are very different from each other.

Scream (2022)

Copycat murderers in ghost face masks are at it again. I'm not sure how many movies in this violent franchise slasher sequel / reboot is, but it is very self aware to the point of making fun of itself. While I didn't really expect much (I actually thought it was the original movie when I started it up lol) I was pleasantly surprised at how entertaining it was.

Jenna Ortega is definitely the stand out of the cast, and while my wife correctly predicted the ending I did not. There are obviously some plot problems like, how did no one see a goon dressed like ghost face in broad daylight and "no! stay together!" (haha). I mean, now I want to watch all the other Scream movies so I guess it did something right?

Knock at the Cabin

In this M. Night Shyamalan film a couple and their adopted kid are held hostage in their remote cabin by strangers (led by Dave Bautista who is great here) who are trying to save the world. I was actually surprised by how little blood and gore there is, and its clearly an intentional cinematographic decision to cut away from most of the violence to really stick to it's psychological horror plot which kept me glued to my screen. Maybe it helps that I'm a Dave Bautista fan but this is one I can recommend.

Sunday, 17 September 2023

Cyberpunk: Edgerunners and Skull Island

Animated Netflix series.

Cyberpunk: Edgerunners

Set in the same futuristic world as the Cyberpunk game (which I haven't played) where people modify their body with machinery, this one season show follows a teen who through misfortune and bad decisions ends up running with a street gang. Very nice art and animations, adult themes coupled with violence and gore and cool concepts that I'm sure are shared with the game (which I haven't played). It is very loud though, seemingly just for the sake of being loud, and it takes a little bit before you can warm up to any othe cast. Not bad but I'm sure it would track better for game fans.

Skull Island

Set in the same world of monsters as Kong: Skull Island, this animated series follows a band of explorers who through good luck and bad decisions (they're out to look for giant monsters, really?) end up on the titular island that is home to a variety of giant creatures and one giant monkey. While the animation is decent it is the surprisingly humorous script and very likable characters that suck you in, and then the death and gore for me is a bonus! I also think its smart that they don't really focus on Kong because that lets this show be more standalone than not. So far only one season of this exists and I will be watching if a season two ever appears.

Saturday, 16 September 2023

Warframe: Knights, Angels and Demons

Continuing the art gallery theme from last time, here are even more works of art I've come across in various dojos...

Thursday, 14 September 2023

Marvel United (and Xmen)

Super simple and very fast.

In this 1 - 4 cooperative board game players take the role of a Marvel superhero to try defeat one of the villains who always starts invulnerable. The game play loop is simple, the villain goes first often moving to one of the six available locations of the board and then doing something heinous (like punching people) and also spawning more thugs and civilians (and if there's no room for them something bad happens / villain dependent).

Then the three heroes get to do something, by playing a card from their unique deck. Symbols at the bottom are only ever: move, punch, heroism or wild which counts as any. The trick is on your turn, you get to use whatever you play AND whatever the previous player used and so on. Clear out 2/3 mini missions of rescuing civilians (heroism), beating thugs (punch) or clearing threats (threat specific - mini-bad guys might need punch, disarming bombs might need heroism) to make the main baddie vulnerable to your punches! But as soon as you complete 1 mini mission the villain moves after every two heroes do something instead of three.

It's very fast, has nice components (especially those quality chibi figurines), and is pretty fun! While the heroes don't really feel super unique apart from the few cards that give them and only them a special bonus, the villains in the base game and the Xmen game are great and have unique mechanisms that make them feel different from each other. It's a nice bonus in the Xmen box that you can play two of the villains (Mystique and Magneto) as heroes as well! The only negative for me is that once I've beaten all the bad guys I've no reason to replay it.

Still recommended, especially to Marvel fans! For those wondering in the base box that we have the available heroes are Captain America, Ant Man (my fave), Wasp, Black Widow, Captain Marvel, Hulk and Iron Man to fight against Red Skull (spreads Hydra), Taskmaster (hard to hit) or Ultron (spawns thugs to win) while the X-Men base contains Wolverine, Cyclops, Jean Gray, Beast, Storm and Professor X  to face off against Sabertooth (hunts specific heroes to win), Juggernaut (keeps running around to KO everyone), Mystique (hunts down a weak senator), and Magneto (kills civilians).

Wednesday, 13 September 2023

Ragnarok (TV Series) and Nimona

It's bad to be different.

Ragnarok (TV Series)

This three season Norwegian TV show is a modern day take on Norse mythology with people being the reincarnations of gods and giants starts of really slow until the "hook" towards the end of episode one. From there it gets pretty good as the ordinary and extraordinary worlds collide and it always helps that there are likeable characters to root for. However it is very combat averse (which is strange given the title), two of the main characters look way too old to be in school especially towards the later seasons, and the ending feels like they got cancelled and had to just put something together quickly. Could have been better.


This woke animated comedy takes place in a world where being a knight usually means having a high noble pedigree so when the gay dark skinned protagonist of low "unworthy" birth (need to tick all those boxes huh) makes it to knighthood it seems to be the start of a new era... until he is framed for killing the beloved queen at that very same public event and is forced into hiding. This attracts the attention of Nimona, who happens to be in the same boat of being hated by everyone for being different.

There are some nice story beats here with decent humor throughout as well as superb CGI animation but plot wise there are some whale sized holes and Nimona is at times over the top irritating. I'm also not sold on the whole, I am only bad and do bad things because people think of me that way message here (so what, that makes it ok to be bad? It's ok to be a bully if you've been bullied? Nice message film!) . Overall an ok film to leave running in the background while you do something else.

Tuesday, 12 September 2023

Warframe: Giant Mechas

While this could have related to the Corpus and their Jackal sized creations, this is instead a little art gallery of player made mechas that are sitting in their dojo. Such incredible talent... and probably an incredible amount of time spent on each of these!

Friday, 8 September 2023

Gloomhaven: Jekserah's Corruption

[Part of the Party Time journal

After we learn that donating to the temple not only grants us temporary blessings but also increases Gloomhaven's prosperity it has become a common practice for each of us to drop 10 coins in there (the maximum after each mission) and are informed by the clergy about a wise seer in the mountains who can divine the locations of anyone or anything so we pay him a visit, only for him to test us against his guardian golems, spirits, drakes and bears!

Luckily Juris' new insta-kill (non-elite) is on hand to deal with the harder hitters while I backstab majority of the ranged foes by getting into their room and hiding in there while the rest clog up the singular bottleneck doorway. Victorious, we ask the seer the location of Jekserah and pay her a visit in the mausoleum she's hiding in. She's definitely leveled up her necromancy as almost every single round she summons new zombies but carefully thrown daggers from Juris ends her and her minions for good!

The local guard congratulate us on this feat by means of offering more work. Mentioning dragon sign to the North and a horrible corruption from below the city. We opt to try the sewers first as there are no "travel encounters" for such a short trip. Inside are snakes, vermlings and self-replicating (but also suicidal, because replicating hurts themselves) oozes. DL gets hammered in the second room here but it is Juris who goes down first. Not to worry though as Jim and his spiderbot make it through unscathed while testing out his new disintegration beam. :O

Almost every time you open a door there's an army waiting on the other side...

Alas, in the end these just turned out to be regular sewer denizens as the source of the corruption seems to be coming from further below.

Tuesday, 5 September 2023

Moving Out and Black Book

Craziness and craziness... but dark?

Moving Out

This cooperative party game for up to four players has you racing the clock to move furniture out of locations and into your truck, often in the most comedic fashion possible as you don't really care about fragile items. Nor do you care about the state of the property! Break those glass windows to make more access points and toss things at the truck to save time, but heavier items will need more hands to lift. Pretty easy controls, but for me its not as fun as the wackiness of Overcooked which is a direct competitor in this genre.

Black Book

Playing as a young woman who lost her love, you naturally do what any sad girl would do: become a witch. Erm what? The art style here leads to some really beautiful scenes but while the game calls itself an RPG you only have a handful of options to choose from at any time. Do you go left or right? Do you advise this person a, b or c? Do you do evil things either to gain power or to not be cursed? You will be dealing with demons regularly so just a heads up if that's not your thing. For me the "card" style combat (thematically its pages of your book) is what turned me off. If I have a book of spells why is it that on my turn I can only pick from x amount that randomly are available to me? Obviously its so that you can't just keep using the super powerful ones over and over but I think some sort of mana system would have suited better. If you can get past that it's an interesting game.

Sunday, 3 September 2023

Pathfinder: The Swallowtail Festival

[Part of the Party Time journal

A week after returning to the town of Sandpoint from Raven's Watch, Merisiel the rogue (mom), Kyra the cleric (Rose), Ezren the mage (Juris) and Valeros the fighter (me) are convinced by tavern/inn-keep Ameiko to participate in the Swallowtail Festival which commemorates the completion of their newly built cathedral. There is food, speeches, butterflies, and a fun assortment of games including archery where Merisiel beats runner up Valeros, a gauntlet where Valeros gets the furthest, riddles where Merisiel does the best and a go-cart race where Merisiel and her partner the local priest are the fastest beating the other teams of Valeros and Kyra as well as Ezren and Ameiko. Strangely all the prizes won suit Kyra though (healing wands), but that works for us! :P

Of course it can't all be fun and games as crazed goblins attack during dusk fall. As Ezren and Kyra were missing consistently and possibly setting fire to more things than the goblins, it is mostly up to Valeros and Merisiel (with her omg flanking bonus) to put down around a dozen of them before the singing green raiders retreat. The very next day the sheriff asks them to investigate disturbances at the local graveyard where after dealing with some ghouls and skeletons they find the remains of the previous priest taken from the clerical crypt, but the team think nothing of it (probably the goblins anyway) and instead accompany a nobleman whom they rescued during the raid and is infatuated with Merisiel on a boar hunt nearby. Odd timing but sure. They all get horses and some nice roast pork for their trouble.

Valeros too gets some attention from the very forward daughter of a local store owner and only thanks to a lucky diplomacy roll does he manage to sheepishly escape an awkward situation when the store owner discovers them in states of undress in his cellar (well, the daughter was half undressed anyway - Valeros fell for her trap!). The morning after the team deal with a lone goblin leftover hiding out in someone's house and then are basically deputized by the sheriff to look after the town while he travels to the next city over to get reinforcements as the local scout just gave word that the usually warring goblin tribes are for some reason working together.

There's no time to worry about that right now though as upon returning to the tavern a staff member reports Ameiko has gone missing...

Wednesday, 30 August 2023

Orwell: Keeping an Eye on You and Cook Serve Delicious 3

Games that feel like work. >_<

Orwell: Keeping an Eye on You

Working for a government that allows spying on people for national security might sound like fun, until you play this game. In it you must track down potential terrorists by combing the internet for news articles and their socials and listening in to their chats and phone calls to build as complete a profile as you can on each of them and link them up on a neat looking digital crime web. It's quite novel at the start, but quickly becomes tedious as you repeat the process over and over. Oh no, don't put misinformation in the system because you'll be scolded again. Lol. Not recommended.

Cook Serve Delicious 3

Working out of a food truck is almost exactly like all those "bartending" games of selecting the right ingredients to mix into a drink. Only here you have multiple stations that can be doing different things on timers and in the time the van is driving between two catering points you get special orders that you need to make en route. Lots of timers in this game, and not a very good tutorial either. If the goal was to make it feel like "work" then, good job devs. I prefer games to be fun though, and this isn't.

Tuesday, 29 August 2023

Dodo Peak and Loop Hero

Very repetitive games. Aren't most games this anyway?

Dodo Peak

Basically a game of snake, but here you are a momma dodo who needs to retrieve her eggs that fell out of the nest during a quake. The islands are smallish to start with as to serve as a tutorial and to introduce you to a whole slew of dangers including snakes, boulders, monkeys, and ... spike traps? What? Gems and coins are also up for grabs if you dare, and the ever present count down clock is there to pressure you into taking a misstep. Rescuing eggs hatches baby dodos that form a train behind you, and if you or any of the babies gets hit by and of the dangers - you'll need to restart the level.

Loop Hero

While it has some interesting pixel art, this is almost an idle game where you let your hero walk around a circular path mainly fighting slimes. Winning these battles awards you with either gear you can equip or cards you can play in the background (like, mountains and such) to give you instant stat boons and/or resources for camp or areas like spider nests and vampire castles to spawn different baddies to get better gear and cards. Eventually, through choice or death you'll get to the camp which you can upgrade for more card opportunities. I think this is the only permanent thing in your game, as when you set off again its back to an empty loop with slimes

Monday, 28 August 2023

Sanctum 2 and Train Valley 2

Build things before time runs out!

Sanctum 2

This one to four player cooperative game is a first person tower defense where you will be scrambling to build walls, often in serpentine patterns, to force the waves of alien scum to pass right beside your variety of turrets. Block their path however and they'll just pick a wall to break! The game feels pretty ridiculous and floaty but at least you have something to do when you run out of resources to build stuff... you can shoot things directly! Right in their weak spot! It's ok, but obviously super shallow and there are many better cooperative games out there.

Train Valley 2

In this game you are given a small map and some money per level to build railways to connect workers to their labor sites, and you need to be careful to not let your trains derail or crash into each other as that costs lots of money to repair! Strangely, letting people die is ok since they naturally replenish but running out of money is a game over. Honestly I have not run into such a bad interface though. Connecting tracks is tedious, erasing tracks is tedious, and the fricking tutorial itself often derails your learning literally as it gets in the way at the worst possible times. Not recommended at all!

Sunday, 27 August 2023

Werewolf by Night and Legion of Super-Heroes (2023)

Actually both superhero movies?

Werewolf by Night

This very short, one hour movie from Marvel tells a spooky, black and white tale of how a bunch of hunters all got together upon the death of a master hunter to go on a hunt to win his powerful doo-hickey. They really lean into the old style film trope here and while it was certainly done on a budget (count the number of sets) the story is quite entertaining with decent action pieces to boot.

Alas the last act needed to have something more to make this really shine but it just comes and goes with no weight or surprises. Still a decent attempt at doing something different, and I felt its better than Secret Invasion, but that's not a hard bar to clear. :P

Legion of Super-Heroes (2023)

This DC animated movie primarily focuses on Supergirl, who upon having difficulties blending in as a refugee on Earth is taught to be better by her family and friends sent away to a future school by Superman and Batman so that any problems she causes aren't their messes to clean up. Uh... Ok? Anyway said school is for the Legion of Super-Heroes ("the Justice League of the future") and they kind of suck, but that's intentional so that Supergirl can do her thing and save the day when things go wrong. That shouldn't be a spoiler, it's a superhero movie - things always go wrong!

While the main plot is weak, I did enjoy the little character development we got and very much enjoyed the excellent art style on display here. Not enough to get a recommendation from me though, so stay away unless you are a Supergirl fan.

Thursday, 24 August 2023

Tower of Fantasy: Tower of Music

[Part of my Tower of Fantasy journal]

With the cult dealt with I have some time off which I spend at Mirroria where I moonlight as a bodyguard for a young DJ who in turn moonlights as an animal rescuer. I also go on patrol with a rookie cop which eventually leads to her in a coma. LOL. Fortunately the two previous comatose victims, Ruby and her mom, are now fully awake and since Ruby's birthday is fast approaching Lin asks that I help her assemble a band and act as their manager for a surprise performance for the kid. Members include the most unlikely of choices (wasn't I in the middle of chasing one of them?) but after a low effort quest line the performance is actually pretty cool.

Afterwards I bid farewell to the crew for its back to Innars for me, and actually back down to the active volcano where the abyssal rift remains open. Scanners sent in detect a new land that it bridges to and I'm sent to investigate, popping out in Domain 9 which basically is China - if China was made of islands floating in midair. I help the inhabitants here fight the gray entities too, which they refer to as "the Darkness", and it looks like this set is led by some strange, flute playing lady.

Magical floating leaves can support the motorbike so it must be safe!

Most of the darkness is sealed up in an underground vault but the Domain 9 master reveals the power that keeps it that way is dwindling quickly. In preparation for the coming war they have begun research and development of combat capabilities for Smart Servants - AI Companions of the cute chibi variety you can bring around with you. And that unfortunately is where I leave Tower of Fantasy for now at level 51 as I've consumed all the main storylines. Maybe I'll revisit again in a year or so. :)

Wednesday, 23 August 2023

Tower of Fantasy: Tower of Abduction

[Part of my Tower of Fantasy journal]

Hykros sends me to follow up on a weapons order they put in at Banges but its being delayed by the resource slow down at the nearby Crown mines which in turn is caused by two problems. The first is easily solved as its just a large presence of thugs led by an overweight queen that harass the miners regularly, which translates to simple vermin clearing for me.

The second is a strange illness spreading through the miner camp, causing them to strike, and the ineffective medicines being provided to them. It turns out both the disease and the "cure" are just experiments being conducted by the cultists who have paid the mine leaders for this easily accessible batch of test subjects!

Once I find this group of cultists I chase them all the way out to the snowfields I first encountered them at and wreck their factories and raid their fortresses, rescuing many of their abducted victims including robo-Shirli who reveals the cult plans to build some sort of time reversal device to try fix the world. Ironically this is the same thing Hykros attempted which wrecked the world previously but whatever... This is also the excuse they use to "wall" off high level zones to lower level players: you are too low level to withstand the radiation and take continuous damage over time.

Surprise bullet hell stage.

Anyhow, the cult leader and his elite guard manage to escape to attack the Tower of Fantasy, but we pursue them up there and after some oddly placed puzzle solving and jumping tests, we kick their collective butts outta there and force them back into hiding. We're not going to hear from them again any time soon.

Tuesday, 22 August 2023

Tower of Fantasy: Tower of the Ocean

[Part of my Tower of Fantasy journal]

With the tunnel to the grand sea operational again, I'm sent there for a crash course in diving because as the name might suggest the majority of this HUGE map involves water. Luckily all weapons still work just fine when fully submerged but strangely, if you try swim on the surface and tire yourself out you might drown but if you just dive - you'll be fine. Our destination this time is Innars city which is deep near the ocean floor.

It's a long way to get here / anywhere in the water.

Good thing there are current generators to help speed the journey along because it's lengthy paddle down there. The Innarians are quite hospitable upon our arrival but curiously do not report any increased grey entity activity as we were led to believe. A simple scouting swim around shows that the grey spacers are indeed hiding in caves here and the drones meant to detect them have been hacked, meaning there's an Innarian traitor/puppet! Once this person is outed and executed, the massive army of grey spacers dive down beneath Innars and reactivate a dormant volcano there. Seems there's a theme of building cities right above dangerous spots in this world...

With reinforcements that include some cultists who have called a temporary truce (because a world threatening event is bad for them too) we pursue and combat the gray army and defeat them and their trio of abyssant leaders, including a lava dragon! Work then commences to seal the volcano and I'm rotated out of the front lines as the cultists call off their ceasefire.

Monday, 21 August 2023

Tower of Fantasy: Tower of Deception

[Part of my Tower of Fantasy journal]

Instead of continuing the pursuit, Lin calls me back to Mirroria for an urgent mission. The doctor who we saved from the Abyss has come out and in of her coma just enough to warn everyone that the gray space entities are amassing in the grand sea, and as communications to the city there has recently been cut off we're tasked with investigating the relay stations in the marshlands between.

Sure enough the marshes are full of the more animalistic gray spacers and the paths trapped with a tangle of explosive webs. While one rookie staff member is rescued at her outpost, the remained are being used as birthing pods for egg laying creatures.

As each relay is also destroyed it soon becomes evident that this was an inside job and the rookie we rescued is actually being used as a puppet by the voluptuous abyssant that has its long digits deep inside her. We slay the creature and then call for the engineering teams to repair the communications and tunnel passage that leads to the grand sea.

While waiting for that I'm tasked with assisting a floating carnival, run by robotic children and a single tech, to deal with some low level raiders which is easy enough. It is then revealed the tech is working on subduing robo-Shirli for the cultists who have abducted her!? I would have given chase but then this awesome song started playing with fireworks and everything and I was mesmerized. Apparently if you are in the right spot in the right in game time you get treated to a light show and some awesome tunes.

No warning, no cutscene, and no doubt one of the best experiences in the game.

Anyway, the cultists escaped with Shirli and the tech escapes punishment as apparently Hykros higher ups have history with her.

Sunday, 20 August 2023

Tower of Fantasy: Tower of Rebellion

[Part of my Tower of Fantasy journal]

While people in Mirroria recover from comas I'm sent to the Banges region to chase down a rogue agent who has stolen simulacra data. Hykros really needs to sort out their security. Just as I arrive the main port comes under siege by those same cultists as last time and they manage to kidnap the town leader and his sickly son, leading to a merry chase where I basically wipe out camp after camp of them only to learn they don't actually have the captives.

The leader had paid for his town to be attacked so he could make off with some valuable resources to try better his kid, but upon finding them in a hidden lab his cure just made the boy a rampaging aberrant which smashes the fool before I can put it down. A map to hidden lab #2 which is on an offshore island leads to the rogue agent who is actually not linked to any of these plots.

She just stole the simulacra of her deceased friend, because she was sick of other people "wearing her". Just another reason for people to hate Hykros, outside of the whole "they screwed up the world" thing that the cultists ride on. As the rogue agent's trap prep is very good she escapes, but at least I now have a cool arsenal of guns at the ready. You can have three weapons ready to go, and it usually helps if they are of different elements not just for fighting but for getting the random currencies lying around - you might need fire to burn vines or ice to cool lava etc.

Had I known I'd have to chase you later, I should have just left you here...

Saturday, 19 August 2023

Tower of Fantasy: Tower of the Abyss

[Part of my Tower of Fantasy journal]

That's a handsy enemy.

After hunting some desert beasts at a nearby oasis to harvest residual radiation from them to act as a power source (because why not turn wild life into batteries), robo-Shirli is ready for action and even saves an expedition force against a particularly grabby abyssant. When its remains are brought into Mirroria for study there is an attack in the city which puts Ruby in a coma, and then I am promptly told to scoot because... I'm not high enough level. WHAT!?

Fine. I warp back to Astra Shelter and explore all of it, killing all the enemy camps until I'm interrupted by Hykros (the crew at the top of the Tower of Fantasy) to help them collect simulacra data that was stolen from them by some cultists hiding at some snowy place. This is all pretty easy with my new dual guns which is a big upgrade from the bow. Anyway, once I'm leveled up enough I'm called back to Mirroria to join Lin's squad to look for Ruby's "mom", a reclusive doctor who had a secret lab deep in some spider caves.

Apparently the lab wasn't deep enough as evidence points to her having ventured into the Abyss, the home of grey space entities, for research purposes. Where is this abyss? Right beneath Mirroria! For some reason the gaping chasm is actually what's keeping the city afloat? Anyway, its down down to goblin town (the gray space entities look a bit goblin like) and finally here's an unpleasant and difficult to navigate environment (I'm glad I got lots of practice in Mirroria) with quickly respawning enemies. We find the doctor has turned into an abyssant and so naturally we save her through BATTLE! Though I may have over done it, as now she too is in a coma. Greeeeeat.

Friday, 18 August 2023

Tower of Fantasy: Tower of Fan Service

[Part of my Tower of Fantasy journal]

Next stop is that floating pyramid!

As my mechanical companion needs more fixing we're sent to Mirroria, a flying pyramid city in the desert and are attacked en route by a giant abyssant worm thing but are saved by the local city defenders which includes one eyed Ruby and her guardian, the fan favorite Lin. I'm certain her super short skirt has nothing to do with that. With robo-girl deposited in the hands of a mechanic I'm free to explore the massive city interior which is freaking huge to the point that you can use flying cabs to get around (or wait for trains that never show up). That jet pack I got from Astra is also super handy here.

While I'm at it I also do the numerous side quests on offer, most of which are the "help find my lost xxx". The part time job at a game studio which lets you design a boss and fight it is pretty cool though, and has turned out to be my most difficult combat so far where I had to out archer a robot centaur. Now's a good time to talk about equipment too, this is not like your usual MMO where you walk up to a shop and buy stuff (well, for misc things like food yes). This is a GACHAPON game. What does that mean? You collect a variety of currencies while questing / exploring then spend them for A CHANCE at something. And it is literally beamed down from space for you! So... I got a bow. :P

Worse is that most weapons have a simulacra attached to them, which is a collectable, often female character who you can then use as your own character. Lin, Ruby and robo-Shirli are just three of the ones available. What happens if you get the same item from the random gachapon I hear you ask? Well, you get to combine the duplicates to make the item STRONGER. Yep. No crafting here, just gachapon away! If increasing your DPS isn't compelling enough then you'll be happy to know that improving said weapons also makes the simulacra have more (less) clothing options and abilities! But but but... what happens if you run out of currency to gachapon? Well, there's always the cash shop... and that's how this game is still afloat.

Thursday, 17 August 2023

Tower of Fantasy: Tower of Pain

[Part of my Tower of Fantasy journal]

Waking up with amnesia is a cliche, but it does set the scene nicely for the "WTF is going on with this game" feeling that you experience upon being introduced to Astra shelter, which is basically a settlement built around a downed spaceship. Shirli, one of the natives, is most helpful in giving us the tour around the super colorful place, and I'm impressed at the amount of voice acted lines though the mouths moving don't match but I suppose that's a translation thing.

While combat against what seems to be the midgets from the Borderlands series is mostly a click fest, the game greatly rewards exploration - and that's why I think I'm quite hooked on it at the moment. It also helps that almost every surface is CLIMBABLE. What!? Anyway, I put the exploration aside to just push through the main story which feels like Shirli is just getting us to do her chores for her until she is injured in an attack and becomes infected with incurable aberrant energy and is well on her way to turning into a science-zombie: another common enemy in the area.

There's the titular tower.
While the shelter's MO is usually to simply execute anyone with these symptoms, Shirli is just too cute and likable so they make me take her to the titular Tower of Fantasy which serves as the base for Hykros a police/teleporter hub and through the magic of technology they save Shirli by basically throwing her into a meat grinder and convalescing her remaining parts into a cyborg-robot companion. Ok I'm a bit hazy on the details because it felt like there was a bit of a time skip ... Anyway, I like it when stories REALLY hurt their characters. One more reason to stick around. :D

Tower of Fantasy

I thought this would be my usual trial and forget runs but to my surprise, I'm still playing this MMO which means I'd better make a journal for it. Obviously I find it way better than Genshin Impact. :P

1 - Tower of Pain
2 - Tower of Fan Service
3 - Tower of the Abyss
4 - Tower of Rebellion
5 - Tower of Deception
6 - Tower of the Ocean
7 - Tower of Abduction
8 - Tower of Music

Tuesday, 15 August 2023

Warframe: Kullervo

Enjoys the stabbing.

To get this melee focused warframe you need to beat him up multiple times in his Duviri prison which only appears during Anger, Sorrow or Fear spirals and in these fights you'll definitely find him using two of his available abilities against you: a rain of daggers and a teleporting, heavy attack which is boosted by his passive that makes it hit harder and swing faster. He might be troublesome if you face him early but if you stack on some decrees you'll be able to curb stomp him easily.

His other two skills are cone of curse, wherein if any of the cursed take damage the others also take a portion of it and recompense, which is his main mechanic - activating his daggers which then autoseek any enemies to deal damage to and at the same time heal Kullervo and give him overguard (because he has zero shields). Any daggers that don't find a target in the short time frame attack Kullervo instead, a punishment for being too far from melee - so you'll want to turn that on before teleporting right into the thick of it.

Pretty cool frame but the lack of shields with a melee game style is pretty risky, though still better than a number of others on offer thanks to the overshield. Mmm, still on the fence with this one. He hasn't been fed to my helminth... yet.

As an aside, I'm now Legendary 1 (which is the next step up from True Master). Whee! :P

Tuesday, 8 August 2023

Dungeons and Dragons: Honour Among Thieves and Secret Invasion

Mindflayers among us? Just kidding BG3 fans.

Dungeons and Dragons: Honour Among Thieves

After escaping from incarceration for theft, a bard (Chris Pine) and barbarian (Michelle Rodriguez) are out to reclaim what was stolen from them but face numerous and often hilarious complications along the way. While the story at its core is simple, this excellent cast of characters, effects and fight scenes makes it very enjoyable and a big step up from the previous films while adding all the little technical details and cameos D&D fans would enjoy. Highly recommended, even if you aren't into D&D! 

That's better than a club!

Secret Invasion (TV Series)

When shapeshifting aliens threaten the safety of the world, who else is there to turn to but the Avenge... I mean, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)? Literally anyone else actually. This six episode series unintentionally depicts just how irrelevant he is, which is kinda bad given he's meant to be the main character. Guess what, if you remove him from the story entirely it can still play out just the same as there are characters already doing his role in almost every scene. The best thing this has going for it is the nice opening song. Not recommended.

Monday, 7 August 2023

Jurassic World: Dominion, 65, and Second Extinction

All about the dinos!

Jurassic World: Dominion

Thanks to the events of the last movie, dinosaurs now co-inhabit the Earth with humans and somehow that's not a violent thing? I mean, can you imagine the size of the shits being left around? Somehow they manage to make this not about the dinos at all yet at the same time get all the protagonists of the franchise together. While I'm not super impressed with the plot the CGI is quite good and its enjoyable enough. Still not sure why people don't just shoot the dinos though - at least even in self defense!


Millions of years ago an alien space craft crashes on Earth and said alien (played by a very human looking Adam Driver), must survive the horrors of dinosaur-times but he isn't shy to absolutely annihilate those reptiles with future tech which is great! The only problem is that it makes for an incredibly light story. Not recommended. Maybe that's a clue why Dominion didn't go that way. Guns curb stomp dinos to the point that its boring.

Second Extincion (Early Access)

In this up to three player coop shooter, dinos have fully taken over the Earth and humanity had to flee to space. Now they send teams down to try retake the planet with missions like  "lets steal some T-Rex eggs for science (and breakfast)"? With tech that literally takes you in and out of space its a bit strange that you need to be boots on the ground to fight the endlessly spawning dinos (who never fight each other). It's also ridiculous to see giant monsters be so... acrobatic? That coupled with a class being tied to one of their six woke characters kinda kills it for me. They should have uncoupled that at least like how Aliens: Fireteam Elite did. Not recommended.

Thursday, 3 August 2023

Murder by Numbers and Impostor Factory

Games with MURDER!

Murder by Numbers

With an awesomely animated upbeat opening its hard not to get into this game which features bright art and follows a newbie detective and a flying robot who are thrown into solving MURDERS mainly through discovering items via grid puzzle imagery that use numbers outside the rows and columns for hints.

For a simple example a 5x5 grid that has 1,1,5,1,1 on both the top and bottom results in a cross or plus sign +, and none of the puzzles are that simple. Pretty cool and easy to get into as the story is nice and the good art and music really draw you in. My only downside is the puzzle solving can be repetitive. Still recommended though.

Impostor Factory

From the makers of To the Moon and Finding Paradise comes this horror comedy that starts with you being invited to a spooky mansion on a stormy nights along with a number of other guests... and soon enough things turn MURDEROUS! It's a pretty good change from the previous games actually, but that lasts just for the opening act - after which its back to tugging your emotional strings with some awesome story telling.

And this team are really good at doing that. While I'd rate this game better than Finding Paradise, you probably should still play To the Moon before this one if you haven't already. Much less puzzle solving here, but more laughs for sure. Recommended.

Wednesday, 2 August 2023

August 2023: The New Blaugs

It's been awhile since I've done a blog status post, so I totally missed announcing that DL managed to get our Guild Hall to level 20 in Neverwinter Online early last month! Also, it's been a minute since I've revisited anything Blaugust but it looks like there's a whole slew of new participants and while I'm not joining those festivities I'll be adding each one to my blog roll as time permits. Just as well since my list was whittled down to 28 over the gap period, so it's time for some new blood. Or new blaugs as it were.

Anyway, it's time for some cool links that I've come across. Mainly "I wish" links. Like, I wish I was this good at archery, or I wish I had Hikaru's precognition(?) of chess, or I wish I had the voice control of Avril Lavigne who can still sing like she's a teenager. Those are all super impressive for me.

If you prefer the funnies you can read through Warframe's red text shenanigans (Red text being the global chat alerts that take place when an update occurs). Or you can watch this amazing clip from an Indian daytime drama. Or relive Neon Genesis: Evangelion, condensed into 10 minutes of live action!

That's it for this post. Have a good day everyone! :)

Tuesday, 1 August 2023

Gloomhaven: Hail to the Void

[Part of the Party Time journal

To seal the void gate we discovered last time, we meet with the ghost-like aesther magician Hail who resides in an abandoned tavern in the city. The price to secure their aid is a frost orb high in the mountains guarded by hungry wolves, angry spirits, and very chill frost demons but the worst part of that mission is the long winding path that tires out Juris and Jim soon after opening the final door. I too, would have been exhausted but my final card combo defeated the last enemy and winning the mission!

Apparently sealing the portal is a multi-mission mini campaign though, as next Hail needs a magic censer located in a nearby tomb which, to no ones surprise, has Gloom cultists doing their thing in. The only difference here is that Hail is with us, is not particularly sturdy, and has only one move of taking two steps forward, UNLESS AN ENEMY IS IN A DOORWAY. Which is like, every single doorway? Sigh. Ambush spawns from the rear mean Jim and DL have to hang back to guard the fool while Juris and I push forward. Jim's new spiderbot is pretty helpful in doing that.

Finally with the censer in hand it is time to close the rift (in a 3rd separate mission) where we simply have to guard Hail for 10 rounds in a single, medium sized room. DL makes good use of the Cragheart's stone summoning to wall off some of the spawning demons but those flying AOE tossing Sun demons are really dangerous! Jim keeps Hail alive through healing while the rest of us basically buy time with stuns, mind control and murder until eventually the aesther mage seals the portal and insta-killing the remaining demons with it! With this victory Gloomhaven's prosperity has increased to the next tier which offers new gear in the shops.

Monday, 31 July 2023

Carnival Zombie (2nd Edition)

Get out or stay forever!

In this 1-6 cooperative board game your team has three days to escape from Venice before the undead leviathan upon which the city was built upon rises from its slumber, and for some reason there are zombies in your way! The components are great and the game itself is pretty simple once you get into it, but the rule book could have used some improvement. Anyway, regardless of the number of players you will almost always have all six characters in the game which takes place in two distinct phases: day and night.

There are no zombies during the day so your team just moves along the city map, hopefully avoiding the areas that sink, towards one of the many ending mini-games (or the "you're doomed, just fight until you die" mini game if you fail to escape). You must balance the time you spend moving with the time you spend resting, building barricades, scavenging items or reviving downed team mates which is not an action you can do at night.

The night phase is the meat of the game, which is simply a tower defense against a veritable army of cubes (representing various regular zombies) and figurines or standees that represent the zombie bosses. The terrain varies based on what part of the city you are in, but generally you want a LOT / ALL of barricades to take the damage as it is easy to be overwhelmed. Range and damage are based on your weapons, but you can never miss so you'll almost always be removing cubes from the board.

The BEST part of the game is the small tombstone cutout which you then have to drop your kills on. It doesn't have to be from a height, but it fills up quickly and should ANY of the cubes fall out, you take minor damage (unless you are near death which means EVERYONE takes minor damage) AND all the cubes that fall respawn on the map! Very fun and very funny with constant tension. Definitely recommended!

Sunday, 30 July 2023

Aliens: Fireteam Elite and The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos

Game over man!

Aliens: Fireteam Elite

This three player co-op shooter has temporarily taken the spot of our GTFO game sessions. As colonial marines, you are sent to a derelict space station orbiting a remote planet and much like the title suggests there are aliens, just like in the movies and a few other specials, waiting there for you. Players can choose from around six classes, customize and level up weapons and most interestingly, have adjustable skill boosts in a tetris/backpack style where gaining level makes more of the "backpack" useful. While the normal difficulty is quite manageable, the "authentic experience" mode really puts you on the backfoot (almost as much as GTFO lol). The biggest downside is the small number of missions (4 campaigns broken into 3 missions) which means despite being able to add challenge cards to change the flow a tiny bit, we'll probably return to GTFO in the not too distant future.

The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos

This comedic take of a typical adventuring party questing in a dungeon is quite funny and well voice acted, but the tactical combats can be quite punishing if you aren't familiar with this X-COM like combat. 99% chance to hit from 10 meters away can still miss at crucial times, and critical fumbles can actually see your nameless yet endearing characters literally kill themselves! Still recommended for any D&D fan, but as usual the comedy can be hit or miss depending on the audience. For me, it was great and I completed the entire game.

Saturday, 29 July 2023

Sniper Elite: The Board Game

This World War 2 game (which comes from the successful digital game franchise), one player is an allied sniper who is kitted out with cool items and uses a separate board with a dry-erase marker to stealthily move around the map while up to three others control the three squads of defenders (nine soldiers all up) to defend the 10 objectives on the board for 9 or 18 turns (the turn track goes back to 1 if the sniper completes one objective) OR wound the sniper twice. The sniper just has to reach two predetermined objectives (hidden card draw) to win.

Obviously the sniper player has to be honest, remembering not to move through walls or defenders, to inform defenders if some soldiers heard a noise (if they moved quickly) or declaring if a shot resulted in a kill. Shooting is rather interesting as the sniper has to declare how many tokens they are pulling out of a bag. To score a hit, they must pull enough aim tokens equivalent to the distance of their target otherwise its a miss. Conversely if they draw two noise tokens, they must immediately give away their position! Just like when they complete their first objective!

Each squad of defenders also has one leader who has a two use per game special power. Among them are the medic can make sure the soldiers in his squad don't die when shot, the kennel master can put down some barky dogs, and the scout teleport his units across the map!? There's also a German sniper officer who can also use the sniper's shot bag.

When we played two players (one sniper/one had all the defenders), it really felt the sniper had the advantage as they won three out of four times. When we played with four (one sniper/three with one defender squad each), the sniper got TROUNCED three out of three times! I found it quite fun to play both and am confident this is better than my similar Jaws game. That said I'll only recommend it to people who enjoy this sort of thing, because it can feel very lopsided at times.

Friday, 28 July 2023

Guacamelee and Grime

GG... or are they?

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition and Guacamelee! 2

This Mexican themed action platformer has the player take role of a regular Jose who becomes a mighty luchador to take on the forces of lucha-evil, which are primarily skeletons it seems. I appreciate the good comic style art and a decent sense of humor but the combat is either a bit off, or it didn't gel well with me which is quite possibly because "this game recommends a controller".

Sigh. Why do I bother trying these on my PC? As such the platforming sections (still in the tutorial) were already not do-able for me. Guacamelee 2 humorously starts with what I believe is the final fight of the first game, but this one has some pretty bad stuttering effects where everything freezes for a few seconds a few times a minute. That's just unplayable.


In this side scrolling platform adventure which smells heavily of the Dark Souls influence, you are a humanoid stone creature with a black hole for a head which you can use to parry/consume other predominantly stone based enemies to make yourself better. You also get weapons that are attuned to strength, dexterity or resonance and perform better the better you are in those categories.

While this game seems to play fine without a controller, it is quite hard for me to get into as you are literally dropped into this alien landscape with no clues of what to do, no quest hook outside the tutorial instructions, and very little story (at the start at least). As such it failed not only to retain my attention but to even grab it in the fist place, and is now uninstalled. If you can't get me to invest in what's happening, then it's not a good game. Not recommended.

Thursday, 27 July 2023

Solo RPGs

Other than playing chess I've been dabbling again in the uncommon realm of free, pen and paper solo RPG games. Usually these either make use of dice or playing cards for randomness but for this set, it's purely just dice.

Against all Evil

This make your own narrative sees your three stat characters face off against threats by rolling dice to reduce the threat's matching stats and accumulate doom tokens per threat stat higher than their own per turn. Upon reaching 5 doom they die or they can lift their doom once (per character) by creating more story about the threat, which I suppose is a neat way of fleshing out an enemy.

Interesting idea but mathematically poor. Having characters with a range of stats is bad, where as having everyone be carbon copies of each other (and ideally excelling in the same one stat) will let you steam roll most of the time. Not recommended.

The Wizard's Test RPG

This solo only game has you as a young apprentice exploring a mystical tower, but your character is so weak and the odds of making it through the first level are already super low, especially since by design you will be revisiting the same rooms over and over until you get a set of lucky rolls. Not fun.

The Creature of Murky Country RPG

A solo game where you are hunting down a creature around town but you soon realize as you randomly wander around that there is actually very little to do as most results only have a specific character class action tied to it (which is randomly determined for the character at the start). That's fine if you luck into the right spot but most of the time everything is uneventful. Not fun.

Tindalos RPG

This solo game is set in the Lovecraftian-verse where you are a hapless fool being hunted by a hound of Tindalos. There's a bigger variety of events here but the setup mechanic of assigning various dice to your stats is ridiculous as it basically comes down to hoping you land on activities you are good at (but can still roll and fail). Better than all the above but still not recommended.

Kalia's Cleansing

In this adult RPG you character must reach a magical spring to lift a curse. A simple two-page ruleset, only needing 1d6 and an interesting game design where you can actually make some decisions and not just rely on blind die rolls makes this the best of this set, though the theme itself might be an issue for many.

Wednesday, 26 July 2023

The Chess Campaign - Rapid 41 to 50 (554)

[Part of the Chess Campaign]

I somehow scraped through the Bronze league advancements and am now in the Silver league, where only the top 5 per division will advance. As I've never been in the top 5 so far I think I'm going to be here for awhile. Also my lesson after this set is to NOT play distracted, which currently is basically every game I've played against non AIs. I'll need to pick a better time of day to play...

41. rohchess06 (W) - my London open met strong resistance and was defeated since I missed too many opportunities (the after game review is super useful). (571) down to (563).

42. bluefloyd1_j (B) - Caro-Kann but I failed to attack early? Hmm not sure what I goofed as I only have one free review a day but I was certainly out played. (563) down to (554).

43. lickmyjunk (B) - Caro-kann and since he was passive I got into a good position and got him with a knight + queen into his kingside castle. (554) up to (562).

44. gnmwrty141519 (W) - London with midgame queen trade ended with few pieces on the board where I did a rook sacrifice to promote one, and then another. Win (562) up to (571).

45. zenitsu5364 (B) - Pirc defense doesn't go well with making blunders (no opening does really) so this was a loss. (571) down to (563).

46. usainpault (W) - London into midgame rook/queen check mate in my favor. Victory (563) back up to (571).

47. Lachofdez (W) - he used an Englund gambit and after an early blunder I lost badly here. Seems I'm weak against that Englund thing. Easiest fix is always to decline it though... lol (571) down to (564)

48. biOblind (B) - I played terribly here, hanging my queen for free and getting trounced as I deserved. Defeat (564) down to (555).

49. tradennn (B) - Caro-Kann into early game only as opponent resigned when he hung his queen early. (555) up to (563).

50. tjwelsh09 (W) - Tried the Ponziani which got me into a pretty strong position and a good game but I pushed a rook one square too far that led to a checkmate defeat! (563) down to (556).

Tuesday, 25 July 2023

The Blacklist (TV Series)

When the FBI's most wanted person, Raymond "the concierge of crime" Reddington (played by James Spader), turns himself in to become a super high value criminal informant - a secret task force is established to hunt down people on his list which both takes criminals off the streets and advances Raymond's agendas.

I wonder if there's an abridged version...

It's a pretty decent setup and Spader is truly the highlight of the show with all his wonderful eloquence and endearing ticks. There's a modicum of action pieces but mostly its a crime thriller with some crazy ideas. With 10 Seasons worth of content (and a failed spin-off to boot) the strength of the plot wanes over time with relatively few pick-me ups and some characters carry the idiot-ball way too much. If you haven't seen it, it's worth trying out anyway. I just can't guarantee you'll stick with it. :P

Monday, 24 July 2023

The Chess Campaign - Rapid 31 to 40 (514)

[Part of the Chess Campaign]

After all these games I think I've gotten over the "trauma" of DL beating me when I was younger by eliminating all my pieces and forcing me not to quit. Eliminating all the enemy pieces is actually the cleanest way to victory as even a pawn still poses a threat in promotion, and is actually very common. The not quitting part makes sense too, because a) he either wanted to practice his checkmates or b) wanted me to see that you can sometimes recover from a losing position... though he never said so, so I guess the answer is A. :P

Anyway, I'm getting chess burnout if you can believe it. Not just "tilt" of constantly playing worse, simply too much chess? I might take a break after this next set. Just as well since lichess has stopped working on my phone...

I played (W)hite or (B)lack.

31. cotrinhkhong (B) - tried to use the Pirc defense for the first time but since this opponent was developing on the wings I opted to switch and take the center standard. After he bishop sniped my rook (corner to corner, pretty cool) I think he blundered as I got him on a turn 9 knight and queen checkmate. (514) up to (526).

32. jhunleo (B) - Caro-Kann but I blundered so much! Luckily he didn't notice and also was blundering a fair bit. Eventually he resigned from what I think was a winning position. Either he was being nice or real life got in his way? (526) up to (535).

33. Nagendra4349 (W) - My London opening was met with a strange counter that I'll need to look up but it still took us all the way to end game where it was sort of even until I blundered my queen. Out of pieces and well down on pawns, I resigned. (535) down to (523).

34. mrd51 (B) - Caro-Kann rocket into king side castle really disrupted the enemy. Took 2/3rds of his forces before checkmate via pawn promotion. Win (523) up to (533).

35. Bigzluz (B) - Pirc got me into a lengthy end game where I was on the back foot. Missed an opportunity to take a free queen and eventually an enemy pawn promotion got me. Loss (533) down to (522).

36. Nixpero (B) - Caro-Kann let me pressure opponent constantly but he was very good in defense. We still had most of the pieces on the board at the end and I won on time, which is rare these days. (522) back up to (533).

37. Thirthankardebnath (W) - Used London into long game where his infiltrator queen did a good job, but I outplayed him at the end and he ran out of time. Victory (533) up to (541).

38. Thanos99x (W) - my London was stopped right away with his king's pawn and then I took a phone call, blundered a bishop and knight and let his queen into my back ranks. He didn't notice my rook/queen cannon checkmate though. Victory (541) up to (551).

39. OwenDarne (W) - London standard and he resigned when I caught his queen in a knight fork. Win (551) up to (561).

40. SanTIagoCJ05 (W) - my London was stopped by his Englund Gambit (that's what the king's pawn response thing is apparently). This led to a decent fight for the center but I caught him with a queen/knight checkmate in his kingside castle. (561) up to (571).